Criminal Defense Attorney

Chester County Shoplifting Lawyer

In Chester County, Pennsylvania, shoplifting or retail theft, is at a moderate level of severity when it comes to crimes. Not only is it required for an individual to take an item but the intention to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the item must also exist.

In cases where these charges are brought, with the right defense attorney at the right time, a lot of embarrassment, costs, and humiliation can be avoided simply by resolving the matter prior to any criminal complaint being filed. To learn more or discuss the steps you can take, consult with a Chester County shoplifting lawyer today.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof in a case such as this rests on the prosecution. In other words, the defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. In order to be convicted of shoplifting or of retail theft in Chester County, someone being accused of the crime would first have to be proven to have taken an item from a retailer, commercial store or dwelling with the specific intent to permanently deprive that location of the item. Therefore, in cases involving a simple box store, an individual would have had to take an item that was left for sale, pass the register area, exit the store and at that point, the intent to permanently deprive is established.  An attorney can defend their client by obtaining video evidence in most cases, or by challenging the observations and allegations made by  the owners, workers or security officers who were present at the scene and claim knowledge of the incident in question.


The evidence could consist of someone  allegedly stealing merchandise on camera. However, it could have been a mistake. There could possibly be witnesses who could attest to the alleged shoplifting being instead a misunderstanding. It is entirely possible that the individual in question made a mistake. In which case, the mistake would negate the mens rea,  or intent to commit such a crime. By using the right attorney, with the best resources and the appropriate investigative tools, an individual has the ability to challenge such evidence and even use that evidence in his or her favor.

Another type of evidence exists in the form of a video which could clearly show that a misunderstanding is a more accurate depiction of the events in question, rather than outright theft as the prosecution is alleging. Having the ability to subpoena the  video as well as sending the right investigator to obtain such video will be essential to gathering all the information and building a proper case. In fact, gathering the evidence as soon as possible, even before a trial takes place, can potentially lead to a defendant avoiding a charge altogether. And in the case that the situation does go to trial, the evidence could be instrumental in possibly leading to an acquittal.

Accessing the necessary resources, finding the proper witnesses, and reviewing any available video footage  are all ways that an individual and his or her lawyer can work together in defending a retail theft or a shoplifting case.

Defense Strategies

The strategies available to a shoplifting lawyer in Chester County are dependent upon the circumstances of the case. Often, the security guards involved in the arrest of retail thefts are not trained as police officers and are thus unaware of the law. Because of this, such security guards can often exceed their legal grounds in making an arrest. Under such circumstances, the charges may be dismissed.

Showing that the theft was unintentional is another form of defense. For instance, in cases where an individual, because of an emergency, leaves a store, and accidently passing the area where pay stations are located can claim a defense by simply showing the court and/or authorities that the person did not have the intention to commit a crime nor did the person have the intention to permanently deprive the location of the alleged stolen items.

Contacting an Attorney

Retail theft should never be taken lightly. It is the type of crime that can prevent an individual from entering a location in the future, or from working in certain environments that involve monetary functions. Even a conviction for misdemeanor offense can affect a person’s record, employment, and education, and will never be removed from his or her record.

Therefore, any individual charged with any retail theft, no matter how small, should seek the services of an experienced Chester County shoplifting attorney as soon as possible.

Some retail theft cases merely involve the mistaken taking of goods from a merchant. Often, individuals will leave a store in a hurry or while distracted and, unknowingly, fail to pay for the goods they take with them. An experienced attorney can help correct such a mistake even before an arrest takes place or charges are filed.